SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The future of hockey in Springfield just got a little bit brighter. 22News has just learned the names of the investors who are bringing an American League Hockey franchise back to Springfield.
- Fran Cataldo, President of C&W Realty Enterprises
- Michael Wallace, Principal of C&W Realty Enterprises
- Frank Colaccino, CEO of The Colvest Group
- Paul Picknelly, President of Sheraton Springfield/Monarch Place
- Dinesh Patel, Owner of Hampton Inn Springfield
- Vidhyadhar Mitta, Owner of Quality Inn Chicopee
- Attorney Frank Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald Attorneys at Law
- Dave Fontaine, Sr., President of Fontaine Bros., Inc.
- Peter Martins & Derek Salema, Local Dunkin Donuts franchisees
“I am proud to announce the names of our initial organizing investors,” said attorney Frank Fitzgerald. “This is a group of local, civic-minded people who understand that Springfield is on the verge of an unprecedented renaissance and simply would not tolerate the loss of AHL hockey in this city.”
The deal was finalized on May 23rd that would bring the Portland Pirates to Springfield after a unanimous vote of the league’s board of governors. The future of hockey in Springfield looked grim in April — when the Falcons played their last game it was announced that the team was sold to the Arizona Coyotes and that they would move to Tucson Arizona.
“We believe there is a strong business case to be made for keeping an AHL hockey franchise in Springfield and we fully intend to capitalize on the unprecedented investment in the downtown corridor. With billions of development dollars and millions of new visitors poised to enter this market, we see tremendous growth potential for this team,” said Fran Cataldo.
The only question now is what the long term future of hockey is in Springfield. The Falcons had to lowest attendance in the AHL but the Portland Pirates had the second lowest attendance. One hockey fan from Albany, New York told 22News she would make the drive.
Jennifer Koury, of Albany, N.Y. said, “Oh absolutely. I’m only an hour and a half away and if it means I can get to see some Panther’s prospects, I would absolutely come here. I love hockey. I love the NHL, I love the AHL too. It’s just as great because these guys are really trying for a spot in the NHL so they are focused and determined and It’s fun to see them play.”
Fans told 22News they are hopeful that the Mass Mutual Center’s partnership with MGM will help boost ticket sales. The media release goes on to say, “The new team will play their home games at the MassMutual Center, directly across Main Street from the $950 million MGM Springfield resort casino project, which is scheduled to open in September of 2018. The project is expected to attract approximately 8 million annual visitors to downtown Springfield. The City’s historic Union Station transportation hub is also in the final stages of a $75 million dollar renovation project. Once completed, the station and MGM will serve as the south and north bookends for a reinvigorated Main Street corridor.”
Further details about the franchise will be released in the coming weeks, including the team name and front office personnel.